Editor’s Note: Welcome Michael Synek to the LAS family! Mike is from the suburbs of Chicago, played his college ball at Illinois State, and he’s now coaching a bit, and playing even more in the MidWest Indoor Lacrosse Association! If you don’t know what this is, read on to the full scoop. If you do, read on for a full insider’s perspective!
Greetings LAS readers, I just want to take this time to introduce myself and thank LAS for giving me the opportunity to share my lacrosse experiences in the Midwest.
I have played lacrosse since I was in 5th grade, going on 15 years now; when I put it like that it makes me feel old. I grew up in a suburb 20 miles north of Chicago where, when I was younger, there were only a few opportunities to play lacrosse. I was a baseball enthusiast for most of my childhood before giving it up to really pursue my passion for lacrosse in high school.
I played four years of lacrosse in high school; three of those years were spent on Varsity. The sport just grew on me and I knew that I would never step away from this game. I went on to be the leading goal scorer in high school and be the first player to be nominated for first team All-State until my younger brother came through the program and completely demolished my record. It is satisfying though knowing that the current record is held by your own blood, I pretty much taught him everything he knows… just kidding. But what older brother wouldn’t say that?
I went on to play in college at Illinois State University where we are a part of the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference (GRLC). And I know what you’re going to ask. No, I never was able to play against 412 Lax, but I did play against fellow blogger Dan Helfrich, who coincidentally played at the same high school as I did. It is unbelievable and truly amazing the leaps and bounds that the MCLA has taken since I graduated from Illinois State. It is great to see the overall competition, and how seriously teams are taking it now; this is a very positive direction for the entire league. I get very defensive when people ask where I played college lacrosse because when I tell them, then they often shrug it off, like playing in the MCLA is some sort of joke lacrosse, because that is completely the opposite of the truth.
I am now back at my high school alma mater where I serve at the assistant Varsity coach and Offensive Coordinator. It is great to come back and see where high school lacrosse is now in Illinois. Definitely 100% better than when I played. I was unsure if I would be a good coach, because you can be a great lacrosse player and know the game very well, but when it comes to coaching you have to know how to translate the game into a form where high school players understand the concepts and also can go out and produce on the field. I was also given the opportunity to coach alongside my brother, which was a great experience. Our first year as co-assistant coaches the team went 15-4 and secured a #6 seed in the state, only to fall short in the quarterfinals.
Currently I play for the Chicago Outlaws, a semi-professional boxla team out of a northwest suburb in Illinois. Our team competes in the MILA (Midwest Indoor Lacrosse Association) and there are currently four teams in this league, with two more teams announcing they are fielding a team next year. Since this is a first year league there are obviously a lot of things that need to be figured out. There are some teams that do not have the correct equipment for the field of play. For obvious reasons, things like shot clocks, two doors for the bench and correct goal sizes haven’t made their way to all of the venues. But it’s coming along very well, and quickly.
All photos courtesy Chicago Outlaws
This is my first year playing in a legitimate organized boxla league and let me tell you I do not think I will ever go back to field lacrosse. The pace of the game, the finesse it takes… the entire game encompasses a whole different skill set to be successful and I love every minute of it. If you have never had a chance to play organized boxla I suggest you do so, because once you have played even a minute of a game, you will forever be a changed lacrosse player.
Even though our season is almost over, we are sitting in 3rd place with a 2-2 record, I will be blogging about my experience this season with the Chicago Outlaws and providing you with some exciting news for next year’s league (there is a very good possibility professional boxla will be making another appearance in Chicago!). Thanks for reading, LAS Nation!